Who's Afraid of WikiLeaks? Missed Opportunities in Political Science Research



Leaked information, such as WikiLeaks’ Cablegate, constitutes a unique and valuable data source for researchers interested in a wide variety of policy-oriented topics. Yet political scientists have avoided using leaked information in their research. This article argues that we can and should use leaked information as a data source in scholarly research. First, the methodological, ethical, and legal challenges related to the use of leaked information in research have been considered, concluding that none of these present serious obstacles. Second, how political scientists can use leaked information to generate novel and unique insights concerning political phenomena using a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods have been shown. Specifically, how leaked documents reveal important details concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, and how leaked diplomatic cables highlight a significant disparity between the U.S. government's public attitude toward traditional knowledge and its private behavior have been demonstrated.